Local Government Magazine

Natural allies combat natural hazards

Natural allies combat natural hazards - LG Local Government June 2017

The idea of ‘triple helix’ collaboration between research institutions, businesses and the Danish equivalent of Kiwi council-controlled organisations (CCOs) generated debate at the recent Water New Zealand 2017 Stormwater Conference in Auckland.

The presence of a seven-member delegation from Denmark sparked talk of a three-way structure for collaboration at the recent Water New Zealand 2017 Stormwater Conference in Auckland. Like the triple helix idea itself, members of the delegation spanned local government, universities and business.
Members included: Lars Noergaard Holmegaard, CE of Lemvig Water and Wastewater Utility; Thomas Damgaard, head of department, nature and environment at Lemvig Municipality; and Steffen Damsgaard, a member of the board of Lemvig Water and Wastewater Utility, a member of Lemvig Municipality, and head of the Danish Secretariat for Rural Councils.
Lemvig Municipality, with a population of over 20,000, is on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula in west Denmark.
Lars is also head of the Climatorium working group – the first initiative in Denmark to institutionalise the triple helix way of working. For the first time, a physical building and institution – the Climatorium in Lemvig – is being set up to host and ensure collaboration between universities, private companies, CCOs and other relevant partners.
The triple helix concept ensures that research conducted by universities is applied in methods and products developed by the participants. As daily operators and end-users of the products, the CCOs are key players. They make sure that high-level research and private innovation turn into usable methods and products.
The Climatorium is a platform for Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) innovation and knowledge sharing. It encourages collaboration in the pursuit of innovative solutions to improve natural hazard risk management.
The Climatorium is one of the 24 projects constituting the Coast to Coast Climate Challenge, an initiative in the central region of Denmark that has received a six-year funding package from the European Union.
While acknowledging the benefits of such funding, delegation members also note that the triple helix concept is a free tool that anyone can use.
The Danish delegation extended a broad invitation to organisations in New Zealand to consider future collaboration on climate change adaptation projects. They were also keen to promote Danish expertise in water and wastewater services.
While they were in New Zealand, members of the delegation also visited a number of public and private stakeholders involved in water and wastewater services as well as in other aspects of climate change adaption. Among them were Auckland Council, Auckland University, Watercare, Water New Zealand, and consultancy companies Opus, Beca and GHD.
The Climatorium project, which has been underway for the past few years, was officially launched in early 2017 to address the need for research, debate and solutions to the effects of climate change and risks from natural hazards.
Delegation members told Local Government Magazine that, although situated on opposite sides of the planet, Denmark and New Zealand share many common features, interests and challenges when it comes to creating communities that are resilient to natural hazards and thereby less vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

This article was first published in the June 2017 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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